Common Law

Altruism runs silent and still in a trickle of blood down the gutter, into the sewer.

Justice dies in a chokehold, gasping “I can’t breathe”.

Racism rears its ugly head towards a crimson hoodie, underneath a winter moon, scattering skittles across the ground.

Corruption stands in a crowd of blue with backs turned on the people. A mayor calls for an investigation, but he is to blame.

Faith is pummeled into wet pavement with batons breaking bones over screams of surrender.

Hope. How, where, when, can I rise?

Drawing

Charcoal residue on the heel of my hand up to my elbow
tracing a curve onto paper
exhaling, the line follows with an arc
inhaling, the line draws in against a paper rib-cage.

Breath in the Air

Words hang with our breath
in small clouds above our heads.
The heated words create a physicality, temporary,
dissipating, as brief as the heat of that moment
– they hang just long enough to be examined, in thoughtful pause.
That pause being long enough to realize
there is perfection in this moment of imperfection
Wabi Sabi the Japanese call it.
In that quiet abeyance I see in your eyes
we are agreeing to accept these intimacies as they are
no longer trying to correct any wrong
change any quality of character
or force our will.
As the heated words dissolve into nothingness,
our breath, heated with a different kind of fire
rises into the air. We are surrounded by snow,
by deeply scented evergreens, by a snow fox, by the dimming winter light.

Dont Ask Dont Tell

Blood pounding in the ears
clawing, scratching, waiting for the scream to rise.
Wake up, wake up! I am awake in mid-nightmare.
Violence jettisons the consciousness to safe harbor
somewhere unknown – brutality against resisting flesh.
Hands grip so hard, lingering bruises are in the shape of hand prints
around the neck, across the breasts, on the thighs.
Unending pain, softness and beauty once so tender are violated, bleeding
sullied in no explicable way.
I cannot tell you. face judgement, the inquiry.
I cant tell you what I will not own as history.
Please don’t ask why I cant talk about
the mattress carrying girl anymore. You can’t know
the word “rape” fires up my brain, heart-rate and the need to flee
and the word makes me not able see you anymore or hear your words.
Please don’t ask. Don’t tell.

Wandering

My heart is wide open like this river
with its dark green moss swaying in the deep swift current.

Urged forward with a primal impulse that makes us wander…
everyplace becomes home, people are familiar strangers.

No map to figure out where to go.
No plan, agenda, or destination.

I wander in the tradition of the Buddhist monk, of the devout pilgrimage faithful
open my soul, test my faith in humanity, myself.

Religion is each step I take. Outside of churches; institutes of higher education, into life, under the trees, in the mountains, under the open sky.

I hear a calling
a whisper from those who came before,
from all those not yet born …
seeking someplace more than home, something greater than myself.

The Last Flight Home

Summer night sky
Mountains stand against dying light
We buried a giant today, his voice echoes in the warm night air
The memories of mourners reverberate
in my ears that I have plugged
with earbuds blasting songs of love, dance and the living.
Blinking lights dot runways, softened
by a thin veil of tears standing in my eyes.
No one cares at this hour
that I lay on the cold dirty carpeted floor
because my head is as heavy as my heart.
Let me close my eyes and think of the sweet fresh
smell of the sea instead of this rank stagnant airport air.
As I join the line of herding passengers
I feel the sweet pressure of a little hand grasp mine.
Placed into my palm is a Batman Pez dispenser with a few sacred candies
remaining in its spring chamber.
I look quizzically into the little boys eyes.
He smiles. “I hate flying too”.

Catching the Crosscurrent

Days are a riptide right now

Dragging me under, scrapping

the soft skin of complacency off,

salting the wound

with obligation, duty.

Trying to surface to catch a breath. To see to the horizon.

Find my bearings.

Waiting for light, a clear moment

to swim the crosscurrent. To rise.

No option but to move forward.

Survival is a skill not just to fight for life

But the life you want.

The life I want is shrouded in the murky sandy bottoms of the ocean

I dream of rising, surfacing, catching a new wave

To shore, to the sand, to land upon my feet.

An Urge to Murder

I can’t say I’ve never had the urge to take another’s life.
I have felt a hatred so intense
that something snapped inside me.
I threw myself against another person
in a murderous rage so viciously
I tore off one of my own fingernails
clawing at his denim covered arms.
Had I been able, I would have torn out his eyes,
his tongue, wrapped my arms around his neck and
twisted his head off like a bottle cap.
But I was 5 years old. and he was in his 30’s.
He had just shot and killed my dog Rebel,
Incorrectly assuming my well-trained labrador
would kill a farmers chicken.
I am now in my 50’s.Much more a pacifist.
But If I ran into that denim coated man today,
he should still fear me.

Settling

We make our order, make our peace.
We resolve by agreement
and let all the turmoil subside
sediments clear murky waters
lay a new foundation.
Things are in place,
there is order from chaos.
There is at last quiet, resolve.
The body heaves a sigh
the breathing becomes deep
I unconsciously smile and reach for your hand.

Into the Day

Trickles of music ride through the air
through the partitioned yards of the row houses
in early morning.
Sunlight winking between buildings and fence slats
smells of coffee brewing, toast toasting
spring bird song overrides the music
in sweet intervals
as I step into the yard- into the day.

curtain

Winter Night

Its too late to be out

Its too warm for this winter night

It is too dry for an El Nino year

Its too quiet for St Pattys day

Its too far to walk to the beach

Its too soon to leave you

Its perfect though the way you say my name and make all worry disappear.

Shikata Ga Nai (it cant be helped)

In the night they were removed by train, allowed to take only what they could carry. Shikata ga nai.

Behind, grandmother’s kimonos hung in closets. Family photographs were left in drawers. Shikata ga nai.

Grandfather left his business, home, and heirlooms with his attorney for safekeeping. They were sold at auction, forever lost. Shikata ga nai.

Aunt Mary died under mysterious circumstances. The family was not allowed to collect her body. Shikata ga nai.

Japanese Americans were held in horse stalls at the racetrack for weeks, months in the cold of winter. Shikata ga nai.

My father’s siblings – separated, parent-less, off to different camps. Shikata ga nai.

Father in Minidoka Idaho’s “Hunt Camp”. Minidoka, desert. dry. hot. flat. Shikata ga nai.

Fights in the desert, blood seeped into the sand. Many years later, Father sinking to his knees in this same place, tears seeping where the blood had been…Shikata ga nai.

Driving a camp coal truck at age 13. Shikata ga nai.

Forced labor in the farmer’s fields. Losing a finger in a tractor. Shikata ga nai.

A drowning in the irrigation ditch. Shikata ga nai.

We ask,  Weren’t you mad? Why didn’t you refuse to go? The elders say “All people make sacrifices during war time. This was the sacrifice we made for our country”. Shikata ga nai.

.

Scarab

Life festers and is born from balled up dung
the beetle rolls into her den.
The image, corporeal, and lowly
is lifted to the heavens
by Egyptians praising the sun god Ra.
The Nile dwellers saw in the sacred beetle, transformation of bodies and souls
as Ra rolled across the day’s sky.
I see your hand roll across the page
transforming ideas into poetry,
words into magic…lifting the communicative construct
into crepuscular wonderment.

Dream

Rush of air through the car window
David Gray on the radio
“The love I was giving you was never in doubt”
Gathering clouds darken
Winds pick up as I make it home
Walk through the bright whiteness of home
Out to the back deck …
Clouds are swirling but it is safe.
I am home.
I waken to a blue sky,
Sun on my face.
Nestled deep into a blanket on a chair out on the lawn.
Rain has left everything a sparkle.
And all is right with the world.

I Missed What You Said

I perhaps didn’t hear.
There was so much said.
Maybe I missed a nuance,
A gesture, a glance.
But it changed the tenor
Of this conversation we were sharing
Or what we were sharing
Perhaps was only in my head.
I might have gleamed over an important word or
Stopped listening as I was pondering a response.
Maybe i just didn’t want to hear
Because sometimes I dont.
Its too much at times
And at times not enough.
Its always a dance, you of many words, me of few who loves my silence.
But I must have missed something.
For there is only silence.
Usually I assume its me.
But this time I think its you.
For someone of many words,
Something is missing.
There is a gap between what I heard
And what you meant me to understand. Trust me. I will listen now.
This silence, has my attention.